Thunder in the Streets: #ClimateStrike!

A couple of days ago, I posted a blog stating that the Green New Deal needed massive social movement to pressure, and even, break political and corporate institutions preventing real action on climate change….. AND…. HERE IT IS!

Today, in over 120 countries, youth have caused a thunder on the streets with the Climate Strike.

And the fossil fuel sector is feeling it. Yesterday, in Houston at an annual gathering of energy analysts, industry executives and other predatory capitalists, Glenn Kellow, the CEO of Peabody Coal, made a remarkable statement: “No doubt that environmental activism plays a part. Certain funds, particularly in Europe and particularly in the U.S. taking certain views means that the capital that has been available in the past may not be there in the future.” Kellow said there are 300  coal power plants under construction in Asia alone, but he acknowledged that new growth may be undermined by environmental campaigners who have raised the costs for coal production.

But while industry plots and schemes their backlash, here’s some images from today’s #Climate Strike:

London, England

Minneapolis, MN

Boston, MA

Berlin, Germany

Brussels, Belgium

New York, NY

San Francisco, CA

This is only the beginning. Let’s sustain and grow it.

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Scott Parkin is a climate organizer working with Rising Tide North America. You can follow him on Twitter at @sparki1969

Why the Green New Deal needs mass direct action

Mass action in Germany.

Last weekend in San Francisco, my friends and I with Diablo Rising Tide hosted two friends from Germany on the “Scale Resistance” tour that Rising Tide has organized with radical climate group Ende Galaende. The talk left me thinking a lot about resistance (the real kind, not the stuff being sold by Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and the corporate Democrats).  The Green New Deal is currently capturing the imagination of the progressive climate movement and becoming a centerpiece of climate “resistance.” But it needs a massive social movement moving forward at a large scale, taking serious action, at its foundation to succeed.

For the past 5 or 6 years, Ende Galaende (“Here and No Further” in English) has organized a massive nationwide coalition, that includes everyone from small radical groups to big green non-profits, to stop lignite coal mining in Germany. Their demands were an immediate phase out of lignite coal mining. Rooted in the anti-nuclear movements of a previous era, their tactic was mass disruption of coal infrastructure. Their action campaigns included mass direct actions numbering in the thousands at open pit coal mines in the Rhineland region and a multi-year tree sit in the Hambach Forest.

This critical direct action campaign has put the German political establishment on the defensive around coal and climate issues. The establishment responded with an agreement for a 20 year phase out of coal in Germany, not an immediate one as demanded  by Ende Galaende.  Their campaign continues.

Nationally in the U.S., the fossil fuel infrastructure fights have also challenged the legitimacy of the oil and coal industries.  The hard fought campaign in the bayous of Louisiana has stopped Energy Transfer Partner’s Bayou Bridge pipeline for at least a year. Indigenous led resistance to Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline has also put the future of that pipeline into question. In Appalachia, the locally led campaign against the Mountain Valley Pipeline that has included long term tree-sits and disruptive protest along the construction route has also delayed the completion of that project. The purveyors of the Keystone XL pipeline are also bracing for a massive social movement response.  Last week, the state of South Dakota passed a set of anti-pipeline protest bills targeting both people in South Dakota, as well as any outside groups that provide support. There are dozens of these state laws being passed or proposed.

Globally, the climate and environmental uprising is spreading with ferocity as well:

  • Barefoot lockdown in Gibberagee State Forest.

    Australia: About 40 protestors took action in the Gibberagee State Forest in protest of illegal logging of koala habitat. A number of activists locked onto Forestry Corporation machinery. The action follows claims by North East Forest Alliance that an audit found the Forestry Corporation was only protecting half of the koala trees is it required to. Among the protestors was  veteran forest activist Nan Nicholson, who was instrumental in saving the forest at Terania Creek in the late 1970s.
  • Australia: In late February, Adani’s Abbot Point Port was targeted by anti-coal activists. Trains were stopped in a near continuous shutdown for over 75 hours during a week of non-violent direct action in central Queensland. Seven activists from across Australia, all committed to fighting the threat of thermal coal induced climate change, took action against Adani. The seven scaled fences, evaded drones, locked themselves to rail infrastructure and suspended themselves from trees and tripods to block coal trains from entering the port.
  • Finland: Climate protesters climbed Finnish Parliament House pillars. Members of several Finnish environmental groups demonstrated at the Finnish Parliament on 6 March. Eight protesters were detained after scaling the giant stone columns.
  • Scotland: About 20 conscientious climate protectors stayed in the National Museum of Scotland on behalf of Extinction Rebellion Scotland after closing time. They sat in to protest the ‘oil club’ dinner being hosted there tonight. A group of over 900 oil executives from the UK and beyond were gathered in a national museum and monument to celebrate their own relevance and profit-making from the destruction of the climate. 12 of our friends were arrested rather than leave after police warnings.
  • Greta Thunberg.

    Climate Strikes:  Across the globe, students and youth are taking action with walkouts and mass protests to protect a future that older generations (particularly those in political and corporate offices) don’t give a shit about. Another mass climate strike is expected on March 15th.

The Sunrise Movement is already using direct action in pushing members of Congress for the Green New Deal. It kicked off with hundreds sitting in at Nancy Pelosi’s Capitol Hill offices in November with 51 arrests. A couple of weeks later on Dec. 10th, Sunrise followed up with a massive Green New Deal lobby day that included sit-ins and 143 arrests.  In response to GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell trying to stop the Green New Deal before it starts, 43 climate activists were arrested in his Capitol Hill offices in late February.  In a stunning response, McConnell postponed the vote where he’d hoped to stop the Green New Deal’s march through Congress.

As Naomi Klein recently penned in the Intercept,

“I have written before about why the old New Deal, despite its failings, remains a useful touchstone for the kind of sweeping climate mobilization that is our only hope of lowering emissions in time. In large part, this is because there are so few historical precedents we can look to (other than top-down military mobilizations) that show how every sector of life, from forestry to education to the arts to housing to electrification, can be transformed under the umbrella of a single, society-wide mission.

Which is why it is so critical to remember that none of it would have happened without massive pressure from social movements. FDR rolled out the New Deal in the midst of a historic wave of labor unrest: There was the Teamsters’ rebellion and Minneapolis general strike in 1934, the 83-day shutdown of the West Coast by longshore workers that same year, and the Flint sit-down autoworkers strikes in 1936 and 1937. During this same period, mass movements, responding to the suffering of the Great Depression, demanded sweeping social programs, such as Social Security and unemployment insurance, while socialists argued that abandoned factories should be handed over to their workers and turned into cooperatives. Upton Sinclair, the muckraking author of “The Jungle,” ran for governor of California in 1934 on a platform arguing that the key to ending poverty was full state funding of workers’ cooperatives. He received nearly 900,000 votes, but having been viciously attacked by the right and undercut by the Democratic establishment, he fell just short of winning the governor’s office.

All of this is a reminder that the New Deal was adopted by Roosevelt at a time of such progressive and left militancy that its programs — which seem radical by today’s standards — appeared at the time to be the only way to hold back a full-scale revolution.”

We’re in a moment that needs massive social movement pressure to break through political and corporate barriers to respond to the climate crisis. Following the lead of organizers from our past, in other parts of the world today, the anti-infrastructure movements and the revitalized youth climate movement, it’s time to scale up and say “here and no further.”

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Scott Parkin is a climate organizer working with Rising Tide North America. You can follow him on Twitter at @sparki1969

RSVP! Scaling Our Climate Resistance Tour: Strategies and Stories from the German Climate Justice Movement

We all know that policy doesn’t get people free. Social change happens when people lead. Not corporations, not politicians… actual people.

But, as climate justice activists and organizers, how do we mobilize the numbers needed to truly stop the fossil fuel industry, topple the systems that let it run amuck, and create truly decentralized and democratized energy systems??

RSVP HERE!!

To answer this question, we’re excited to announce that Rising Tide North America is going on a U.S. tour this February through April with radical climate justice group Ende Gelände to share stories from Germany’s wildly successful mass mobilizations.

  • WHAT: Join German activists from Ende Gelände on their US tour as they share stories from organizing successful mass climate justice mobilizations — including their 6,000 person direct action against enormous open-cast lignite coal mines
  • RSVP: Get tour updates by signing up here.
  • WHERE: Across the U.S.
  • WHEN: February to April (Specific dates are below and here)
  • ONLINE WEBINAR RSVP HERE

A strong and diverse radical climate justice movement — called Ende Gelände (“Here and No Further”) — has been growing in Germany.

Last fall, they organized 6,000 people to collectively block a coal mine. No small feat, right? Demonstrators invaded mining pits, danced in front of the diggers, slept on the railways, and provoked pictures that made the connection between climate chaos and capitalism and exposed the dirty truth behind the German energy transition “Energiewende”.

To be crystal clear, politicians and corporations will not solve the climate crisis.

To win, we need to build a mass grassroots movement that uses direct action to bring down the fossil fuel industry and demand a just transition to decentralized and democratized energy systems. We also need to abolish false solutions like carbon trading and green capitalism; confront far-right “populist” lies for what they are; build international solidarity; use local and municipal power-building strategies; and, take leadership for the first and worst hit by pollution and climate catastrophes.

If the momentum of the Green New Deal and Extinction Rebellion has shown us anything, it’s the importance of building power on the ground and supporting communities taking action to win a world that’s livable for everyone.

Donate to the tour so we can get around!

West Coast: February 21 – March 16

East Coast/Appalachia/Midwest: March 6 – April 2

RSVP link: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/scaling-up-the-resistance-tour-strategies-and-stories-from-the-german-climate-justice-movement?source=direct_link&

Salem OR: Climate Justice Activists Protest Clean Energy Jobs Bill

Banner displayed in Salem, OR.

Cross-posted from Portland Rising Tide

February, 6 2019

Climate Justice Activists Protest Clean Energy Jobs Bill

Salem, OR: Activists with the group Portland Rising Tide showed up at the Clean Energy Jobs lobby day with a banner that read, “World on Fire, CEJ Brings Garden Hose.” Hundreds of climate activists from across Oregon gathered in Salem to lobby for climate action, including volunteers with Portland Rising Tide who are calling for a Green New Deal. As Democrats are poised to pass the Clean Energy Jobs bill with support from Big Green Organizations, grassroots activists are calling on Democrats to dramatically reform the bill or abandon it and pass stronger legislation instead.

Activists with Portland Rising Tide are calling attention to major problems within the Clean Energy Jobs bill, including no limits on the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure, use of carbon markets and carbon trading, and the proportion of the revenue that will go into the Highway Trust Fund, potentially leading to increases in greenhouse gas emissions.

Instead, activists are calling for a Green New Deal in Oregon that includes direct industry regulation, transformation of the food system, massive expansion of public transportation, and job programs.

“We’re out here today because we want to see serious action on climate change,” said Jesse Hannon with Portland Rising Tide. “We are very concerned that this bill is not going to do what it claims. Cap and trade has been a failure for 13 years, and with only 12 years left to significantly reduce emissions, we don’t have time to waste on policies that don’t work. We need something better and we need it now.”

Increasingly, Oregonians are concerned about climate change and calling for climate action. In response to the recent studies showing that irreversible climate tipping points could be reached as soon as 2030, people are calling for rapid carbon emissions reductions and a society-wide transition off of fossil fuels.

Portland Rising Tide is an all-volunteer network of climate justice activists organizing against the root causes of climate change.

For more information and pictures from today’s action, visit @pdxrisingtide on Twitter and Facebook.